If you’ve ever wondered why big stars take time out of their busy schedules to attend those countless Comic Cons, Walker Stalker conventions, or Fan Expos, there a simple reason why — money. Lots and lots of money.
Since it’s become cool in the last 10 years or so to be a geek over things like Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, or The Walking Dead, these conventions aren’t just for washed up stars from the 80s anymore. Major players like Norman Reedus, who plays the beloved Daryl Dixon on The Walking Dead, regularly makes appearances at these things all across the country. According the The Hollywood Reporter, he’s making a serious chunk of change while doing it.
Here’s how it works: Actors typically ask for a price guarantee — often paid up front — to show up, sign autographs, pose for photos and sometimes take part in a panel discussion or two. Most conventions charge an entry fee, collect $5 for every autograph and $10 per photo (with a photographer taking another $10). The stars — who receive luxury travel and accommodations — pocket the rest. Anything over the guarantee is icing on the cake.
Reedus reportedly demands as much as $200,000 guranteed to appear at conventions, and can finish the weekend with a cool half million in his pocket, after you account for $20 autographs or $100 pictures.
“If somebody wanted to do a convention every weekend, they could make more on the convention circuit than their episodic fee,” says Arrow star Stephen Amell, who actually started his own talent agency to help stars deal with the waves and waves of appearance requests they receive.
Reedus isn’t the only one cashing in, either. Stars from Harry Potter, Star Wars, Doctor Who, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe can all command top dollar at conventions.